Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kevin Gilbert - Thud (1995)

Sometimes genius comes and goes without much notice or fanfare. Such is the case with the late Kevin Gilbert.

Gilbert was an exceptional songwriter, singer, and producer. While his talents were recognized by many of his musical peers and his small cadre of fervently loyal fans, his music and talents remained and continue to remain largely ignored by the general population.

Thud showcases Gilbert's satirical bite, his talents as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist. But what was Gilbert's strongest suit was his lyrical skills, his masterful way with words and the way his pained vocals delivered his clever lyrics.

Much like the Toy Matinee album he'd done a few years before with Patrick Leonard, there's not a weak track on the album, all songs showing evidence of his troubled musical genius.

Waiting excellently dispels the myth of the promise of better days to come. In Gilbert's vocal delivery you hear his skepticism that the better times he's waiting for will ever actually arrive. If anything you hear a certainty of future disappointments that the longer he waits for things the less apt they are to happen.

Tea For One captures the pain of loneliness and unrequited love with a stark emotional poignance that allows the listener to feel the pain of Duncan, the song's protagonist, and make an emotional connection with the music that is lacking in more conventional pop songs. Similarly, Tears of Audrey, is a song of putting up walls to keep love out. It gives the fear of pain of broken heart a name-- throughout the song the listener wants the tears of Audrey to fall, to break down the emotional walls many of us are guilty of putting up.

All of us have a dark side, a Shadow Self, we keep at bay-- a darker evil version of ourselves that feeds off of our negativity and grows in strength the more we give into that negativity. Shadow Self is a message from that dark side we all have, acting as a warning to help prevent us from letting our Shadow Self take us over.

But of all the tracks on Thud the one that is almost spooky in its clairvoyance-- it's lyrics even more true today than they were at the time of the albums release is Goodness Gracious:

Goodness Gracious
I'm not listening anymore
Cause the spooks are in the White House
and they've justified a war
So wake me when they notify we're gonna fight some more

Who knows what music Gilbert would have created were he still alive today? What stories would he gone on to tell? What messages would he be delivering us through his darkly emotional lyrics? Unfortunately the world will never find out. But at least he left us with a few glimpses into his musical genius. Thud is an overlooked album that is worthy of not just a first glance, but also of several subsequent glances.

If you've missed out on Gilbert's work in the past, it's not going anywhere and it's never too late to sit up and take notice.


Bar Bar A said...


Perplexio said...

Barbara: Glad you enjoyed the review.

David Amulet said...

Wasn't Kevin Gilbert the force behind Mr. Big?? (Acknowledging, of course, the bass-playing genius of Mr. Sheehan.)

I didn't know he had such good solo stuff! Thanks!

-- david

Perplexio said...

David: I honestly don't know whether or not KG had anything to do with Mr. Big. I know before she became famous, he was Sheryl Crow's girlfriend. And he brought her to these get togethers called "The Tuesday Night Music Club" and was largely responsible for many of the lyrics on her debut album.

I know he was friends with Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard and worked with them in the mid 90s and that D'Virgilio was/is largely responsible for the posthumous release of KG's concept album, The Shaming of the True.

Charlie said...

This sounds like a great CD. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the well written review.

Anonymous said...

Kevin had nothing to do with Mr. Big. He was the force behind Giraffe; when they won the Yamaha Showcase he met Pat Leonard, who was judging. Together they put out the Toy Matinee album ... Pat later worked with Richard Pages to make the Third matinee album, on which Kevin played no part. Kevin's solo album is Thud. When he died he was working on his Rock Opera, The Shaming of the True, which was completed by his friends and is available at

For more things Kevin I suggest you visit ... among other things, there one can listen to boots, tributes and alternate takes.


Anonymous said...

I believe the person for Mr. Big is Paul Gilbert, a truly gifted and incredible guitarist in his own right.

Kevin Gilbert did the one (and unfortunately only) album of Toy Matinee in 1990. After promoting and touring with Toy Matinee (a completely separate group of musicians which included Sheryl Crow on keyboards and backing vocals) he engineered the "Black and White" single with Bill Bottrell who wrote and produced it with Michael Jackson.

In the late summer of 1992 he meet with a "collective" of very talented (and eclectic) group of musicians which featured Bill Bottrell (producer of Toy Matinee), David Baerwald (of David and David fame), and Brian Macleod (studio drummer on the Toy Matinee sessions) and brought then girlfriend Sheryl Crow to the sessions. Soon the collective became more of a studio project for Sheryl Crow and thus was born "The Tuesday Night Music Club". Kevin co-wrote 9 of the 11 tracks and worked on "Thud" when not working on that project. His first studio was right next to Toad Hall, Bill Bottrell Pasadena studio which he sublet to Gilbert.

His second and most famous studio was called "Lawnmower and Garden Supply Studio" since that was the original business before he took it over. It's now called "Mower Studios" and is owned by the Jason Hilbert the producer for Kelly Clarkson. He recorded "Thud" there as well as "The Kaviar Sessions" and most of "The Shaming of the True", which was completed by Nick DiVirgilio and friends of Kevin Gilbert.

"Shaming.." is a real treat and to me is the best that Gilbert did as a soloist. Some of the songs on "Shaming.." were alternate versions of songs he did as early as 17 years of age.